Its ironic how closely “She Makes Comics” has tied in to a key event in history, as Marisa Stotter’s documentary was released almost at the same time Joan Lee, wife of Stan Lee died. Stan Lee is of course widely considered one of the godfathers of the comic book medium and superheroes. After Lee died, husband Stan was widely quoted as crediting much of his success and the success of Marvel to his wife, who acted as his muse and advisor for decades. So without Joan’s influence comic books would have looked wildly different from today and “She Makes Comics” celebrates the female influence of the medium.
Women have gone widely unnoticed and under credited since the creation of the medium, despite the fact that women have helped advance the art form since its conception. “She Makes Comics” chronicles the very first notable female artist who dwelled in the slums making comics for her company, and how many female artists decided to change the art form for the better. “She Makes Comics” is mostly a light and briskly paced historical documentary, but it does go over a lot of very disturbing footnotes in the history of women in comics. In particular how their complaints about rape humor in comics were dismissed by their male superiors, as well as the backlash they received for radically altering modern heroines to make them less like pin up models and more like actual warriors.
Director Stotter discusses much of the history of the medium with women at the forefront, and sits down with a lot of very notable personalities and scholars. There are great interviews with Amy Dallen, Team Unicorn, groundbreaking DC Comics editor Karen Berger, Louise Simonson, Gail Simone, and even notable female comic book store owners working to change the industry. All in all, “She Makes Comics” is a stellar and important historical document that breaks all stereotypes, and explores how important roles in the medium that have gone ignored for far too long.
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